Moria Refugee Camp on Lesvos

Moria Refugee Camp on Lesvos
Moria Refugee Camp on Lesvos

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Do we need the armed forces?

I wrote the following two paragraphs four years ago and only found the draft today. What is odd is that I have recently been thinking on very much the same lines, informed by my research for my book, The Logistics of War and encouraged by the possibility of exploring the subject at a future Lincoln Philosophy Cafe.

'In Friday's Guardian, Simon Jenkins asked this question; it should have made my blood boil, coming, as I do, from an army family. It should also have made my blood boil given the importance I attach to Remembrance. It did the opposite, and I am trying to work out why. When I read about Churchill in the thirties, he stands as my farsighted hero. I understand the desire of Baldwin and Chamberlain for peace, but Churchill was right. But he was right then. The world has moved on to become in many ways a more dangerous place. There is no single bogeyman.

On Sunday I will say in my sermon that the Second World War set the pattern for conflicts to come. It made ethic cleansing accepted, it made atrocities on civilians a normal part of war, it gave permission for the bombing of Baghdad. The difference now is that the threats are more insidious. They need a different response. The armed forces continue the pattern set by WWII, but the way the threats present themselves is radically different. We need a defence policy that addresses this rather than saying that the existing services can take it within their ambit.'

The point I am finding myself drawn to is that war is no longer the solution. War did defeat the Nazis, it didn't defeat any of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. As my father said in a speech in Halifax for Salute the Soldier week, the nation that is prepared to waste the most will win. The Allies had an overwhelming advantage in resources compared to Germany. The problem now is that even small countries or alliances can have access to weapons the equal of the superpowers.  

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